Source: Herenga ā Nuku – the Outdoor Access Commission
In 2012, Lauren Schaer noticed that pīwauwau, rock wren, weren’t on the candidate list for Bird of the Year. She wrote to Forest & Bird and became a campaign manager. Ten years later she’s picked up the reigns again, this time as part of a team of rock wren advocates at Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission.
It’s the first year rock wren have ranked in the top ten; in fact, they’re holding the number one spot – but only by the tips of their talons. Kororā, little penguin, are hot on their heels.
This could be the rock wren’s first and last chance to win the title Bird of the Year. Forest & Bird have tried to put the focus on underbirds this year (endangered birds that don’t usually get the spotlight), yet pīwauwau are the only underbird in the top five.
With its charming bobbing moves and handsome looks, you might wonder why this cute, hardy bird isn’t better known. You’ve probably never even seen footage of a rock wren on television. Perhaps it’s because few people encounter the remote rock wren – they’re Aotearoa’s only true alpine bird. Unlike kea, they live above the bushline in the South Island year-round.
“You know when you see a map of the world with no New Zealand on it? That’s my life!” says the rock wren on Facebook and Instagram under the handle @TeamRockWren .
Let’s hope the little bird is right when he says, “For the first time in history, it’s gonna start reigning wrens”. Voting closes at 5 pm Sunday (30 October). www.birdoftheyear.org.nz
Lauren from Herenga ā Nuku will be available to the media for comment throughout this last weekend of voting. She will be hoping for an historic first victory for the endangered and remote underbird she’s spent a decade supporting.
Lauren spent weeks in the wilderness making an award-winning short film about rock wren (not yet publicly available: rhapsodyforarockwren.com)
Images provided must be credited to the photographers (see filenames) and only used in promotion of rock wren for Bird of the Year 2022.
The social media accounts were started four years ago by other pīwauwau lovers, who generously allowed Lauren and the Herenga ā Nuku team to run them this year.